[env-trinity] Sacramento Bee 09 17 09 Water District Buying Yolo Land

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Sep 30 10:16:31 PDT 2009

Bollibokka and Yolo and 

Yolo officials fear big water districts will buy up revenue-rich ag lands to
aid smelt

By Hudson Sangree 
hsangree at sacbee.com 

Published: Thursday, Sep. 17, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 3B 

Over the years,  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+County/> Yolo County
residents have taken pride in their restored wetlands.

The  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+Bypass+Wildlife+Area/> Yolo Bypass
Wildlife Area, for example, lines Interstate 80 between Davis and West
Sacramento, its reed beds filled with migrating waterfowl.

Now, however, Yolo officials see the restoration of other wetlands as a
potential threat - and are taking steps to prevent it. 

They're worried that powerful  <http://topics.sacbee.com/water+districts/>
water districts from  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Southern+California/>
Southern California, which draw water from the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento-San+Joaquin+Delta/> Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta, will buy up tracts of Yolo open land and flood them to create
habitat for the endangered  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta smelt.

 <http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+County/> Yolo County leaders fear the
efforts could take farmland out of production and eliminate
<http://topics.sacbee.com/tax+dollars/> tax dollars, while the county is
desperate for revenue.

This week,  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+County/> Yolo County supervisors
held a workshop on a proposed ordinance that would give them authority over
the conversion of farmland to wetlands.

"We have to have some protection," Supervisor
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Jim+Provenza/> Jim Provenza of Davis said at the

Anxiety in Yolo has increased as
<http://topics.sacbee.com/water+districts/> water districts eye the rural
county as a prime spot for habitat restoration. The
<http://topics.sacbee.com/water+districts/> water districts are under
pressure from the state and federal governments to provide aquatic habitat
for the smelt or risk losing their
<http://topics.sacbee.com/water+supplies/> water supplies.

" <http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+County/> Yolo County's going to be fertile
ground for these projects," Supervisor
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Mike+McGowan/> Mike McGowan said.

"We're ground zero. We're the bull's-eye."

The  <http://topics.sacbee.com/water+districts/> water districts care only
about keeping "the plumbing moving down south," he said.

The county was caught off guard in December 2007 when the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Westlands+Water+District/> Westlands Water
District - which irrigates more than 600,000 acres of farmland in the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/San+Joaquin+Valley/> San Joaquin Valley -
purchased a 3,400-acre ranch in the Yolo Bypass.

The bypass is a low-lying area used for
<http://topics.sacbee.com/flood+protection/> flood protection, farming and
habitat. Its southern portion is deemed prime for smelt because its
elevation allows natural tides to sweep up the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Sacramento+River/> Sacramento River and inundate
the land.

The smelt, tiny fish key to the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta's
food chain and ecosystem, are thought to be nearing extinction. They thrive
in tidal wetlands.

Westlands spokeswoman  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Sarah+Woolf/> Sarah Woolf
said the water district has no plans to purchase any more land in Yolo.

"We don't have any intention to purchase additional acreage of any kind,"
she said.

"We want to see if this project works - to improve the health of the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta and the species."

She said she wasn't familiar with the proposed ordinance but didn't think it
was necessary.

"It's unfortunate, because I think everyone is trying to find a way to save
the health of the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Delta/> Delta," she said.

Yolo leaders are also worried that the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Metropolitan+Water+District/> Metropolitan Water
District, which supplies water to 18 million people in
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Los+Angeles/> Los Angeles and
<http://topics.sacbee.com/San+Diego/> San Diego, would try to buy up swaths
of land.

District spokesman  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Bob+Muir/> Bob Muir said he
hadn't heard about the proposed Yolo ordinance but believed a collaborative
approach is needed.

That was also the message of those who spoke against the ordinance at
Tuesday's workshop, including representatives of Ducks Unlimited and the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/California+Waterfowl+Association/> California
Waterfowl Association.

 <http://topics.sacbee.com/Robin+Kulakow/> Robin Kulakow is executive
director of the  <http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+Basin+Foundation/> Yolo
Basin Foundation, a group that provides educational programs in the
<http://topics.sacbee.com/Yolo+Bypass+Wildlife+Area/> Yolo Bypass Wildlife

The area was established through public-private cooperation, she said.

She told the supervisors that the ordinance would be "a step backward" and
encouraged them to work with various groups to come up with solutions.

"Now is not the time to make conservation efforts more complicated," she



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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